Yesterday I sprayed my plants with soapy water and today they are all dying: they are very brown, limp, and all the leaves are falling off. How can I save all my plants?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Tiffany in Florida: There is a difference between household soap, both bar and liquid, and insecticidal soap sold at garden centers. If you made your own mix of soap and water this can certainly damage any plant material it is sprayed on. Liquid soap is technically considered a detergent made of lye (potasium hydroxide) and animal fat and/or plant oils. Bar soap is made of lye (sodium hydroxide) and animal fat/plant oils. When sprayed on plant material, homemade soap mixes can break down the waxy protective coat and burn the foliage. From what you have described, it sounds like this is what might have happened. Unfortunately, the damage has been done and there is nothing that can be done to reverse the effects. In the future it is best to purchase brand-name insecticidal soaps from your garden center. These products are great organic options for insect control but best left up to the experts to make. I wish I had better news for you.